Barbados and countries in the Southern and Eastern Caribbean are being advised to prepare for powerful aftershocks after a 6.9 magnitude earthquake rocked parts of the region today.
The University of the West Indies Seismic Research Centre said the tremor occurred at 5:31p.m. local time west of Trinidad and was located at 10.56°N and 62.80°W at a depth of 88 kilometres.
“It was felt widely in the Eastern Caribbean,” the St Augustine, Trinidad centre said on its website.
The United States Geological Survey (USGS) listed the tremor as a 7.0 magnitude quake about 30 miles from Guiria, Sucre, Venezuela.
In a live broadcast following the event, seismologist Dr Joan Latchman revealed that today’s earthquake was the largest on record in 50 years. She also warned of the possibility of large aftershocks or even stronger earthquakes in the future.
“It is the largest earthquake since 1968 but it is not the largest we could have in our area. So, we could consider this is another one of those events that keeps us aware that our region is seismically active and that strong earthquakes can, and will, occur. From this earthquake we can expect to have aftershocks and we have already had seven,” she said.
Barbadians from various parts of the island reported feeling the quake, which lasted approximately 30 seconds.
Vinita Charles, who was shopping at the membership warehouse club, Pricesmart, told Barbados TODAY when the shaking began she thought she was falling ill.
“I started to feel a little dizzy and I thought I was getting sick, but it was not until I saw the things on the shelf shaking as well that I realized that it was a tremor,” she said, adding that none of the shoppers panicked.
One woman who did not want to be identified said she realized there was an earthquake when she noticed cars shaking.
“I heard one car alarm go off and noticed the antennas on the other cars shaking and drew it to the attention of my son and he immediately said ‘mummy, it’s an earthquake,’” she said.
There have been no reports of damage to person or property here. There were also no such reports in Venezuela up until the time of publication, although Nestor Luis Reverol, the country’s interior minister, wrote on Twitter that first responders were ready to “address any emergency” following today’s earthquake.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre late this evening revised its forecast following the tremor, saying there was no tsunami threat.
“Minor sea level fluctuations up to 30 cm above and below the normal tide may occur in coastal areas near the earthquake over the next few hours and continuing for up to several hours,” the PTWC said.
The centre had previously said based on preliminary information about the earthquake, “hazardous tsunami waves are possible for coasts located within 300 km of the earthquake epicentre”.
The PTWC had said waves were possible along the coasts of Grenada, Trinidad and Tobago and Venezuela, and it had urged people located in threatened coastal areas to watch for information from national and local authorities.
In Trinidad, images and videos have emerged of damaged buildings, and Neville Wint, the chief executive officer of the office of disaster preparedness and management (ODPM), said they had received some reports of structural damage to homes and other buildings.
Wint said the OPDM was conducting an assessment “of critical facilities and support structures”, including roads and bridges, public buildings and facilities such as airports.
He said the hospitals had reported “no major impact”.
The disaster management official also advised residents of the twin island republic to be vigilant, secure their premises and “check to ensure [there was] no major structural damage”, as aftershocks were possible. email@example.com